The Middle East, and the states within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in particular, are attracting intense interest from the international insurance and reinsurance community. Put simply, the “carrot” is the incredible opportunities present in the region

Dramatic economic growth, billions of dollars of investment and some of the most ambitious energy and construction projects ever undertaken will ensure there’s “certainly enough premium to go around,” says Standard & Poor’s director David Anthony. The wealth of the region also holds much promise for personal lines and Shari’ah-compliant (takaful) life insurance products, which have taken off in a big way in the last year. “The cake is very large and it’s getting bigger,” promises Anthony. The “stick”, if one is required, is both the increasing pressure to diversify and the ongoing bid to seek out new markets and new opportunities.

Not that the opportunities in this part of the world are anything new. Numerous global insurers, reinsurers, brokers and service providers have had a presence in the Middle East for many years. But it is fair to say we are now witnessing an exciting new phase of growth. As Fetooh Al Zayani, head of business development, insurance and reinsurance, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), put it in our roundtable discussion (pages 10-23): “In almost 50 years I’ve never seen or come across a period where there is so much energy, so many positive signs, and I consider this period of the Gulf to be a golden era.” In the last two months alone, Marsh applied for a license to operate out of the QFC, Lancashire received authorisation to open a branch in Dubai, Bahrain announced its first captive had been set up, India’s state reinsurer GIC said it had set up shop in Dubai and SCOR, Lloyd’s, Converium and AIG were among numerous re/insurers announcing their entry into the world of takaful re/insurance.

“This supplement is a wealth of information for those readers interested in discovering more about the business opportunities in the GCC

This supplement is a wealth of information for those readers interested in discovering more about the business opportunities in the GCC. The features and roundtable discussion, which was held in Doha, Qatar, include valuable perspectives from some of the market’s top players – from regional insurers and reinsurers to global re/insurers, brokers, regulators and rating and legal experts. In addition, we reveal some of the key findings from an extensive research project conducted by Global Reinsurance on behalf of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority earlier this year. The consensus view: for international insurers and reinsurers, the GCC is most certainly an oasis and not a mirage.